About a year and a half ago, French brand Bell & Ross made an unexpected and bold foray into the market of sports watches with integrated bracelets. Personified by the BR 05 collection, the idea was to merge the classic design cues of the brand – the square case, the military roots – with a more modern and urban direction. And in our eyes, it succeeded. Following the inaugural models, Bell & Ross also released a chronograph model and, today’s topic, a new blue-coloured version of the BR 05 Skeleton.
The Bell & Ross BR 05 concept is, on paper, pretty simple… but also pretty risky. The idea was to use the most iconic elements of the brand’s design language and to implement them into the ultra-popular style of the luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet. In short, B&R decided to create a watch in the spirit of the times, still recognizable as a B&R but to be worn in the city and not on a battlefield or inside a jet fighter’s cockpit. Easier said than done. Drastically changing category never comes without risk and, from experience, we also know that entering the luxury sports watch market, without copying existing icons, can be complex.
Still, Bell & Ross showed creativity and managed to highlight the key assets of a sports watch – the relatively thin steel case, the simple display, the mix of sportiness and luxury, the mandatory integrated steel bracelet and an overall very nice execution – in a watch that was still fully identifiable as a Bell & Ross, thanks to the integration of the square case, functional screws and round dial opening, as well as numerals and indexes identical to the brand’s pilot’s watches.
In addition to the classic (understand closed dial) models and the more masculine, bolder chronograph version, the Paris-based brand also included an openworked version in the collection, and today we look at a model launched in mid-2020, the BR 05 Skeleton Blue.
Basically, we’re looking at a different movement and a dial that reveals the mechanics. Other than that, the BR 05 Skeleton is identical to the time-and-date versions with the precision-executed 40mm square case topped by a flat square bezel with four functional screws. Most of the case is finely brushed, with vertical brushed flat surfaces and horizontal brushed casebands. This matte finish is dynamized by large polished bevels running on the sides of the bezel and mid-case and the whole habillage not only feels solid but beautifully done. The crown is protected by a square-ish module and screws down for a comfortable 100m water-resistance.
Essentially the same watch as the limited-edition Skeleton presented in 2019, the BR 05 Skeleton Blue brings a splash of colour to a previously monochromatic model. The blue-tinted sapphire dial gives it a bolder look; it should be noted that the colour comes from the dial, not the movement, which is grey. This transparent background offers a view on the movement, with a mainplate opened upon B&R requirements (the pattern is unique to the brand). The mechanics are nicely if industrially finished, with a vertical brushed surface. The dial is framed by a circular brushed inner flange where the applied metallic rounded baton markers appear to float above the movement. The hands and indexes are filled with Super-LumiNova and the date function has been removed.
Available, like the rest of the collection, on an integrated stainless steel bracelet, we had the version on a rubber strap. While the closed dial models are, in my opinion, better looking on a steel bracelet, the more complex style of the dial and its colour are better paired with the textured blue rubber strap offered by Bell & Ross. It is well integrated with the case and is very comfortable. It is closed by a folding clasp. Inside the case is the well-known Sellita SW 300 base movement. This alternative to the ETA 2892 has been visually modified but retains its specifications, meaning a 4Hz frequency and 42h of power reserve. The sapphire back reveals an openworked rotor coated in blue with matte-finished bridges.